Jennifer Davies supported every NDP electoral campaign since the 1960s with the NDP pin showing on her lapel. (Photo: supplied)

Jennifer Davies supported every NDP electoral campaign since the 1960s with the NDP pin showing on her lapel. (Photo: supplied)

Heart of our city: Jennifer Davis

Marmalade, pigs, and keeping the history of St. Andrews in Prince Rupert

From being a herdsman’s wife dealing with dairy cows, to her love of pigs, working for an insurance company, assisting with every NDP election campaign since the 1960s, and working for the St. Andrews Anglican Diocese for more than 40 years, Prince Rupert’s Jennifer Davies has a life filled with adventures starting from the other side of the world.

The 90-years-young classic well-spoken lady shared with The Northern View that her parents were from Victorian-era Great Britain. With her own mother born in 1894, she was 37 when Jennifer was born.

The Second World War started when she was just eight years old and ended when she was 12. She said she didn’t notice a difference in life or times during the war because that’s just how things were as she grew up 20 miles from London.

“I don’t know that (life) changed for me because I didn’t know what it was before,” she said. “I remember the Blitz. When London was on fire you could practically see it from the house. But I remember it.”

Jennifer said she has always watched lots of television programs around Armistice or Remembrance Day and she notes that each year with dismay less and less is shown.

“I could watch those things quite happily, and cry through the whole lot, but this year there weren’t very many – if any. Maybe there were too many other things going on this past year,” she said.

Watching television is something she does often as COVID-19 has basically shut her inside the home she has lived in for more than 30 years in the city’s east side. Due to health and the need to stay safe away from the virus she hasn’t had many visitors and explained she hasn’t been out except for doctors’ appointments, and definitely not for any fun or social activities for a year now.

A very precise lady she is unyielding in telling you what’s on her mind or what she doesn’t like. She likes British and Canadian produced T.V. shows. She loves a cup of Tetley’s tea which can change flavour depending on the local water. She loves orange marmalade — but only the English Robertson’s brand which one of her sons brings to her when he visits from Kitimat.

READ MORE: Hearts of our City: Ed Landrath and Annie, his assistance dog

Jennifer and her husband Peter left England for Canada in 1956 when Canadian National Railways was paying for new immigrants to move to the country. Peter had been working as a herdsman in the dairy industry milking cows when obtained a job just outside of Prince George. He arrived by ship, with Jennifer and their eldest son who was six years old arriving in the country six weeks later by plane.

“Well, I actually loved that job. I used to go out and help. (Our son) would come with me and we go out there together and help dad,” she said.

Times were different back then. When Jennifer was due to have another baby she was working in a building supply almost to the day of the birth. Employers’ expectations were not the same as they are now.

“The baby was due in two weeks, so I left to be home at that point. I’m damned if she wasn’t born that same weekend. My boss expected me to be back in two weeks after the baby was born,” she said. “So I had to find someone to work for me.”

After a little while, her boss telephoned her and asked her to come back.

“He said Mrs. Jennifer, I can’t cope with this woman. She doesn’t know what. Please come back.”

Jennifer ended up going back after telling him that she would have to bring the baby. Little Sally would accompany her mom to work carried in a basket.

Soon after the family moved to Vancouver and Langley where they had some land and built a barn. They took an interest in Yorkshire Weiner pigs and breeding them.

A fond memory is when she and Peter drove to the University of British Columbia to purchase some of the small porkers.

“We bought six of them. We just put them in our Volkswagon Beetle, would you believe and drove them back to Langley.”

After hiring a boar for breeding they eventually purchased their own, but Jennifer said he was slow in doing what needed to be done.

“I got to know my sows. I just love pigs. And when the time came for them to farrow, I lay down beside them and rubbed their tummies, you know? I was their mama.”

“Oh – and they were always spotlessly clean. They never ever pooped anywhere but where you told them to.”

Jennifer said admittedly she does get a bit touchy when people refer to pigs as ‘dirty’.

“I get upset. Don’t ever call pigs dirty. They are not, they are the cleanest animals around. Horses and cows and sheep and everything else just (poop) where they want to go. A pig never does.”

Ultimately, they bred a herd of around 200 Weiners that they would keep until they grew to the right size for pork.

Jennifer said she doesn’t have an issue eating pork, beef or lamb, but put a rabbit in front of her and she can not bear it, despite having bred them as well for eating.

When asked if she had any funny pig stories, she replied chuckling that “life is all funny in that type of thing.”

One day after Peter went on a fishing trip he came home and told the family they were moving for a new job in the mining industry.

The family moved to Canim Lake, near 100 Mile House. They obtained property on the less travelled north side and built a house. During the construction, they lived in a tent on the property – mom, dad and three kids. One was already away at university.

“It was fun. I was too young to have anything but fun and too hardworking to be bothered by it.”

READ MORE:Heart of our city: Dr. Marius Pienaar

Eventually, the family made their way back up to the north of the province settling in Kitimat for a while where she became the director of a child development centre where lots of fundraising was done and she also worked on NDP electoral campaigns.

“We used to have all sorts of (functions). We had dances and big potluck suppers. It was a very great time actually.”

She has been assisting with every NDP campaign for more than 50 years, with the last campaign she worked on being when Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast was first elected in 2013.

“I was never into politics to an extent. I wouldn’t want to say to a candidate ‘go here and go there and do this and talk about that’. That wasn’t my bag,” Jennifer said. “But, I would arrange it.”

She said at the polls there would be almost 100 people and she would remember each of their names, even when she didn’t see them until four years later at the next election. Working has always filled her life and she would often during a campaign work her job during the day and be working on the campaign at night until after 9 p.m.

“I never had any time to fill, because it was always full,” she said. “I tell people that I have all the time in the world but none to spare.”

It was in 1984 after her four children were grown when she moved to Prince Rupert for a job with St. Andrews Anglican Diocese. She had started off working as a secretary for the Bishop in Prince George, even though she didn’t know how to type, she said.

Always involved in the church, she now enjoys organizing church history files and has compiled a myriad of information on the church history. She has even turned an unused room in the church into a sort of history room for which she has sewn the curtains for and decorated. She doesn’t go down there by herself anymore due to access and mobility. She has had three hip and back surgeries she said were great 25 years ago, but not so much now at almost 90.

“I’m turning 90 in June. I used to say I’m going to live to be 90. So, I’m wondering what’s going to happen after that,” she said. “I’m going to have to change it and say I’m going to live to be 95 … I have no idea. We are only here one day at a time.”


K-J Millar | Journalist
Send K-J email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Heart of our City

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jennifer Davies 80th birthday celebration. She turns 90-years-young in June 2021. (Photo: supplied)

Jennifer Davies 80th birthday celebration. She turns 90-years-young in June 2021. (Photo: supplied)

Just Posted

COVID019 cases number have dropped dramatically according to the BC CDC epidemiology mapping for the week of April 11 to 17 . Nurse Angie Z. gets a thumbs up from Delores Campbell, one of the first of 9,008 residents to be vaccinated in the Prince Rupert community vaccination clinics in March. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View.
COVID-19 Case number plummet in Prince Rupert

BCCDC mapping shows a dramatic decrease in pandemic case number in the Prince Rupert region

Dreamfish are hung on the fence at Annunication School in Prince Rupert on April 17 as part of the Stream of Dream eco-education program teaching about local watersheds and salmon habitats. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stream of Dreams fish swim the fence at Prince Rupert School

Students at Annunciation school learned about watershed protection and salmon habitat

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Registered Nurse, Teresa Friesen immunizes Dunrovin resident, Richard Brophy. Resident’s at the home were the first in Quesnel to receive COVID-19 vaccines. (Submitted Photo)
COLUMN: Vaccine floodgates should be opened

This editor’s column first appeared in the April 14 edition of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read